The Lussier quarry is located 500 metres east of the Lussier River and 2.5 kilometres south of its confluence with Coyote Creek, 24 kilometres southeast from the village of Canal Flats.
The southernmost exposures of gypsum in the Stanford Range occur in the Lussier River - Coyote Creek area. In this area, individual gypsum showings have been traced from about 2 kilometres north of the confluence of the Lussier River and Coyote Creek to the northern boundary of the Top of the World Park.
The gypsum observed in the Lussier River valley is vertical to steeply dipping. Faulting may have been important in the localization and preservation of these deposits. The dominant structural feature is a north-trending syncline with shallow dipping limbs. Gypsum is present along both limbs and the axis is located along the height of land separating the Lussier River and Coyote Creek.
Gypsum in the Stanford Range occurs in rocks of Devonian age. In the Lussier River - Coyote Creek area, the Devonian sequence is overlain by a shale unit and carbonate strata of the Mississippian Banff Formation. The area is underlain by a sequence of evaporites and associated carbonate rocks of the Burnais Formation with an overlying limestone and shale sequence of the Harrogate Formation. More recent work proposed the term "Cedared Formation" for a sequence of dolomites, sandstones and limestones that is, in part, stratigraphically equivalent to the Burnais Formation. Much of the carbonate strata previously included in the Burnais Formation are now tentatively assigned to either the Cedared or Harrogate formations. The Harrogate Formation is the youngest Devonian unit in the Stanford Range.
Thin-bedded or laminated gypsum of the Burnais Formation is assumed to be in fault contact with the underlying Ordovician to Silurian Beaverfoot-Brisco Formation or in conformable contact with the Cedared Formation and overlain conformably by the black to dark grey limestone of the Harrogate Formation. The Beaverfoot-Brisco Formation is comprised of thin to medium-bedded light grey dolomite and limestone with characteristic ovular chert nodules and lenses in a carbonate matrix. The gypsum is of good quality, ranging between 83 and 93 per cent gypsum and varying in color from pale grey to grey, brownish grey, dark grey and black. Cream-colored laminae are also present.
The evaporite sequence has been folded into a series of northwest-plunging, 18 to 40 degrees, folds. Small scale faulting with minimal displacement is present west of the Elkhorn quarry (082JSW021).
Gypsum/anhydrite evaporite deposits commonly form in either standing bodies of water or within the vadose zone and upper phreatic zone on supratidal flats and desert playas. Characteristics of the former include laminated or bedded evaporites and soft sediment deformation with small faults. They are usually void of fossils. Based on these criteria it can be interpreted that gypsum deposits in the Stanford Range probably formed in a standing body of water. Water depths were probably shallow ranging from a few centimetres to a few metres. This is evidenced by the presence of cross- laminations, cut and fill structures and rip-up breccias. The presence of selenite is also indicative of a shallow water environment (Open File 1991-15).
The Lussier gypsum deposit, hosted in the Burnais Formation, is exposed in outcrop across a width of 156 metres and over a vertical height of approximately 100 metres. It occurs in a northeast trending anticline and is truncated on the south by a fault, the deposit probably abuts a fault to the north, although evidence for this is lacking. Carbonate strata of the Cedared Formation outcrops immediately north and south of the deposit but nowhere are contact relationships exposed for observation. The deposit is overlain by nodular limestone of the Harrogate Formation. Structure within the deposit is complicated by numerous faults with minimal displacement and intricate small-scale enterolithic folds. A fault with considerable but undeterminable displacement near the southern end of the quarry has a carbonate band adjacent to it. These structures are the locus of sinkholes and other karst features within the deposit.
Gypsum varies in colour from pale grey to black with some cream to white laminae present. It is very well-laminated with laminae generally 0.1 to 4 millimetres thick but thicker laminae are present, locally. White selenite occurs as blebs along fractures and fault zones. Native sulphur and pyrite are present locally, but are rare. Anhydrite occurs as pods or thin layers within the deposit which increase in frequency and extent with depth.
In thin section, the gypsum is observed to have a fine-grained granular texture. The texture varies from distinct well-formed grains to grains with diffuse boundaries, giving the rock a felted appearance. Carbonate material, generally in the form of dolomite, constitutes approximately 10 to 15 per cent of the rock. Minor amounts of quartz and lesser anhydrite are also present.
The Lussier quarry which began producing in 1984 is owned by Domtar Inc. and operated by Domtar Gypsum. No production figures are available. Original reserves were calculated to be approximately 7 million tonnes (Open File 1991-15) grading 85 to 90 per cent gypsum (Z. D. Hora, personal communication, 1991). Gypsum is hauled a distance of 32 kilometres over logging roads to a plant situated at Canal Flats. There is no primary crushing of the gypsum at the quarry site; the crushing plant is located along a railroad spur at Canal Flats.
Georgia-Pacific Canada Inc. began operating the Coyote Creek quarry in 1996 and drilled about 500 metres in 1997 near the Four J quarry and shipped product in 1998. Estimated production is 100,000 tonnes of gypsum yearly.
Georgia-Pacific Canada Inc. continued to operate the mine through 2005. Estimated production is listed in the MINFILE Production Report.